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This article originally appeared in the Fall 1998 issue of The Reporter, the magazine of Women's American ORT.It was a journey to the past as well as a journey home to a place I had never been.I became proficient in the ways of microfilm and microfiche. census I found my mother listed as an infant, the newest member of the Frumkin household.I scoured census and naturalization records and old city directories. But I am still trying to find the name of the ship and the port of entry that brought my ancestors to the New World.It was a shtetl, a small village with a strong Jewish presence.Today, it is still a village but no longer a shtetl.Nine out of every 10 Jews were murdered during World War II; in many places, what remains today are a handful of people, plaques and monuments of stone, remnants of a once-vital community.
Pogroms, emigration and then the Holocaust had nearly obliterated the Jewish population of Eastern Europe.
He was about 45, and eagerly volunteered to join us.
His 76-year-old mother would surely want to talk to us, he said, but first he insisted on a little tour.
Next he led us to a large, recessed area of overgrown bush, surrounded by earthen embankments. Here, Wolf’s parents, my great-grandparents Hillel and Bessie, most surely are buried.
Yet there are no markers, no tombstones — centuries-old family headstones were carted away during the war to be used as paving stones — just long grass and brambles on a deserted patch of land.
No Jews live here; the wooden synagogue that once stood at the center of the village is gone; the school and the cemetery are also gone, leaving silent echoes for me to hear.